NFL Playoff Games Are Sudden Death No Longer.

FINALLY!! The NFL was the only league of any kind that had an overtime rule where it was not only possible, but probable, one of the two teams battling for the win in sudden death might not even see the ball on offense. The stat was true 60%  of the time since 1994.  Six out of 10 teams that won the overtime coin-toss, either, returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown to end the game, marched down the field to score a touchdown to end the game, or marched about 40 yards down the field to kick the game-winning field goal.

THAT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN………at least during the playoffs.

The sudden death rule was ridiculous, especially when you consider both teams battled hard to the stale-mate and one team would be denied to match, or beat, the coin-toss winning teams score.

Here’s the new overtime playoff rule agreed to by 28 of the 32 owners Tuesday:

  1. Both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period, unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.
  2. If the team that possesses the ball first scores a field goal on its initial possession, the other team shall have the opportunity to possess the ball. If [that team] scores a touchdown on its possession, it is the winner. If the score is tied after [both teams have a] possession, the team next scoring by any method shall be the winner.
  3. If the score is tied at the end of a 15-minute overtime period, or if [the overtime period’s] initial possession has not ended, another overtime period will begin, and play will continue until a score is made, regardless of how many 15-minute periods are necessary.

That works for me. Consider last year’s NFC Championship Game. Tied at 28 after regulation, the eventual Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints won the coin toss and marched about 40 yards. Saints kicker Garrett Hartley sent New Orleans to the Super Bowl connecting on a 44 yard field goal dropping the Minnesota Vikings, 31-28. Brett Favre and the Vikings offense, who had double the yardage of the Saints in regulation, never saw the ball again. Had this new rule been in effect, Favre would’ve had the opportunity to tie or win the game. A shot the Vikings earned.

I’ve got to agree with ESPN NFL analyst Mike Golic. He says this is quite an improvement over the old sudden death rule. But, according to Golic, not good enough. Golic suggested  a complete 15 minute quarter should be played until the final gun. The score at the end of the overtime period is the final…..unless both teams are still tied. In which case, you continue playing overtime periods removing three minutes for each extra quarter played until a winner is decided. In other words, after the initial 15 minute overtime is still dead-locked at its conclusion, the following O.T. quarter is cut to 12 minutes….and so on until a winner is clearly decided. If after five O.T. periods both are still dead-locked, then you go to sudden death. I like it.

Talk about “edge of your seat playoff excitement”. That sounds like the ultimate. Maybe, down the line that’ll be the O.T. rule. Now, at least both teams will have a shot.

Only thing I don’t like about the rule change is that it isn’t part of the regular season. Games tied after regulation will still be decided by the old “sudden death” format. That’s going to be a huge flaw if a teams playoff chances hinge on the one game decided in “sudden death”. That is, essentially, a playoff game.

Modify the new rule for the regular season. Have a complete, 15 minute overtime period. If both teams remain tied after the O.T. quarter, then go to the “sudden death” format with the first team scoring, be it a field goal or touchdown, winning the game. Maybe, down the line. We’ll see.

By the way, one of the four teams to vote against the new playoff overtime rule, the Minnesota Vikings. Go figure.

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